Category Archives: Education

Education is a general term that describes all those actions where an adult intervenes in the life of a child with the purpose to help that child to reach responsible adulthood.

Education can take place informally at home or where ever an adult and a child are together, it can also take place in a formal setting such as a school where one adult (teacher) is in interaction with one or more non-adults.

Formal education is normally also characterized by certain subject content (curriculum) which is taught to students in such a way that they understand the content and are able to apply the content to solve problems of some or other kind. In a formal setting students are often grouped according to age or level of academic capability as demonstrated by a test or exam of some kind.

Advanced education takes place after a prescribed minimum level of content and skills mastery has been reached. At this level students are expected to take greater responsibility for their own learning and development.

Windows: No.13 Sedaven: Humble beginnings

Overview of Sedaven's humble origin and development

Editor of Sedaven: origin and growth
Dr Paul Coetser B.A, M.A, M.Ed., D.Ed.

Sedaven: Humble beginnings

(Sedaven: Humble beginnings was written in 1970 by Matric student Kathy O’Reilly and published in the 1970 edition of the Protea – Pictures and explanatory comments added by editor.)

A little more than two decades ago the site on which Sedaven is now situated was a mere wind-blown, deserted piece of ground, and a sanctuary for numerous wild creatures and birds. 

Sedaven: Humble beginnings

Koppies clothed in verdant serenity stood like lonely sentinels outlined against the sky. Pink-tinted proteas smiled down upon the rich golden ground.

In scouting around for a suitable site for the establishment of a high school, Pastor J.B. Cooks, then the Educational Secretary, came across the above mentioned site. Fortunately it complied with all the requirements.

It had to:

  1. be away from the large cities,
  2. be near a hospital,
  3. be near a railway station,
  4. have a healthful climate,
  5. have a good water supply,
  6. be a place where there would be an opportunity for young people to be out in nature, where God’s handiwork could be seen and appreciated.

Providentially this 800-acre farm was found to be ideally situated for the establishment of the proposed high school.  It was located only five miles  (8 Km) from Heidelberg, a homely town in the Suikerbosrante.  Building operations were soon under way.

 Although Helderberg College caters for college students and high school pupils, it was felt, especially by the believers in the Transvaal, that Helderberg was rather far away, and that a local high school should be established for pupils from the northern provinces.  The idea was that Sedaven would be a preparatory school for Helderberg College.

Sedaven: Humble beginnings 

Sedaven High School was inaugurated on 16 January 1951. Pastor Jan van der Merwe, the then-president of the Orange-Transvaal Conference must have smiled to himself to have seen his brain-child shoot up into a startling reality, as it was under his enthusiastic leadership that the decision was made to establish this boarding high school.

 Being a Conference project, Sedaven has of necessity grown slowly, but, through the years, more and more buildings and facilities have been added.  


Sedaven: Humble beginnings - Sedaven Church
Building Sedaven Church
Sedaven: Humble beginnings
End result







At first schooling from Std 5 (Gr. 7) to Std 8 (Gr. 10) was provided for, but, in 1953 the first matriculation class was taught.

To date (1970) Sedaven has had five principals.  

Sedaven: Humble beginnings - HF Steenberg
Pastor H.F. Steenberg

Pastor H.F. Steenberg will be the new principal of Sedaven as from next year (1971).

Sedaven: Humble beginnings

Pastor du Plessis, who has been a wonderful principal and an invaluable guide to Sedaven’s young people for the past decade, is to retire at the end of this year.  He will surely be missed by all the pupils who have grown to respect and value his fatherly counsel.

Most of the recorded memories about the life and times of Sedaven come from student alumni. The following information and anecdote relate to some of the single staff who lived in the “teachers’ flats” in 1957. Dr. D. Birkenstock who started his teaching career at Sedaven remembers:…

I was trying to recall who lived in the Teacher’s flat in 1957. On the ground floor it was Isobel Brydon, myself and in the large flat was Jessie Patrick. On the top floor, in the two single rooms was Billy van Heerden and Donald Bertelsen. I think the big flat was shared by some ladies, I think Betsy le Roux, Marie Botha and I do not recall any others. We all had coal stoves that also heated the water for our showers and baths.

On one occasion Jessie had given us a number of Avocado’s she had received from Durban, I had no place to store them so I put about ten of these inside the oven of the stove, we would use only once or twice a week and we would remove them before we made the fire in the stove. You have guessed what happened, it was Sunday evening and Billy made the fire in the stove, soon it was burning brightly and for some reason we went to Billy’s flat to chat. After a while we smelt something strange and we went back to my flat. At first we could not trace the smell but then I opened and the sight that greeted my eyes was ten pitch black blobs in the oven.

Luckily the water was hot and we could both have baths in preparation for the new week!

    Sedaven truly has lived up to its motto: Non Sibi Sed Deo – not for self, but for God, in that many of its pupils have entered the denominational work.

The following is another 1957 memory from Melody Schleicher a student at the time:

A very funny incident happened one night at the girls’ dorm. I think it was the night we all waited up to see the Sputnik. In any event, some of us noticed a bicycle and two chaps going from behind the dining room/kitchen building and sneaking behind the girls’ dorm. A couple of us went to the wooden fence and peeped through to see what they were up to. It was Athol de Beer and Rodney Austen. They had a sheet and were fumbling around with it, the idea being to gives us girls a fright. Spooks in the night kind of thing. I rushed to my room and grabbed my sheet off the bed and was back again before they were quite ready to open the gate and waited wrapped in the sheet. As the gate opened I stepped forward and said “Boo”. You have never seen such surprised chaps in all your life. Rodney Austen bolted and Athol had trouble getting onto his bike to make his getaway. I am chuckling now at the memory.

Editor’s comment:

  • Sputnik was launched on 4 Oct 1957 and heralded the beginning of the arms race between USA and USSR.
  • Athol de Beer passed away a few weeks ago (December 2016)

Today (1970) Sedaven, with its modern library and laboratories, and its dormitories, which are at present being renovated and extended, compares favourably with any of our other institutions.

 Visitors coming to Sedaven for the first time are pleasantly surprised at its setting and scenic beauty.  

Sedaven: Humble beginnings

Such are its surroundings, that the Rand municipalities have bought up 13,000 morgen adjoining Sedaven for the establishment of a nature reserve.

The beautiful surroundings and the underlying purpose of the school inspired the words of the school song which echoes in the minds of all alumni:

Where Heidelberg by mountain range and flowing stream is bound, where sunny veldt the seasons change and songs of birds doth sound, we live and work in love and peace and try both God and man to please. Take pride in duty done, unite in work and fun!

Sedaven, Sedaven, we glory in thy name, thy fortunes ever be the same, be the same!

Aan Heidelberg se berg en hang langs ruisend waterstroom, in sonnig veld met voelgesang wat ruis uit bos en boom, woon ons in liefd’ en vree byeen en doen ons plig en vra sy seen. Vra Sy seen!

Sedaven, Sedaven, ons roem jou voortbestaan! Waar jy ons lei daar sal ons gaan, sal ons gaan!

Even if the work that was studied at school eludes the minds of old Sedaven pupils, the fun they had at Sedaven never will.  Not even time will wipe from their memories the nocturnal call of jackals and the barking of baboons in the koppies.  Memories like mystical fragrances linger on.

If the images and content of Sedaven: Humble beginnings resonate with you, please write a comment or “like” our page on Facebook. We are always interested in additional stories or corrections of what we have published! [Editor]

Cover Image taken from Wikipedia. License. CC BY-SA 3.0


Windows No 12: Sedaven 1951

The Pioneers

Dr Paul Coetser B.A, M.A, M.Ed., D.Ed.




Sedaven 1951 

[“Sedaven 1951” was written by ESTHER (UYS) GEBHARDT and first published in the “Protea” of 1972. – The section that is printed in bold was originally written in Afrikaans and later translated into English by Evert Potgieter.]

Red water

Amidst the cheerful chatting of a group of girls and the clattering of dishes being washed, a question was heard, “Where is Cathy?  She is supposed to help here today!”

This brought instant outrage: “She can’t be allowed to get away with it!  Its warm, and the bell for afternoon classes will be ringing soon.” 

But then somebody answered, “She’s gone home.  Didn’t you know?”  A chorus of voices: “Home! Why?!”  And the short answer to that: “Because of the red water.”

Yes, Sedaven 1951’s water was red!  Up in the sugarbush-hills where the fountain erupted, the water was clear and sweet.  But very quickly the high iron content reacted to the oxygen rich Highveld air; hence the rust-red water.

To the principal, pastor C.C. Marais (known and revered as uncle C.C.) this was simply one more challenge among many others.  He used to say jokingly that the high iron content helped to develop strong backbones!

Building a school

His was the task to build a school – literally from nothing. The expectations of the school committee and parents were high, and funds pitifully low. 

According to plan, this newborn, Sedaven, was to open its doors to boys and girls and staff members in January of 1951.  And so classes started on the 16th, and the official opening occurred on January 17.

 But was this really a school?  Two buildings on the bare veld at the foot of the “Suikerbosrand” (sugarbush-reef), the principal’s house nestled against a hill, an old farm house up against an opposite hill, the cow shed, and o yes, another small grass thatched house between the hills up above the Little Dam.  At times baboons would leave the hills to play on the roof of this little house! 

Early mornings aunty Enslin ventured forth from this same little home to cross the stream by the orchard as she made her way to the girls’ dormitory.  Preceptress?  No, dining-room matron!  You see, the girls’ dormitory had to serve as kitchen, dining-room, classroom, dormitory, as well as domicile for the preceptress!

A young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Sparrow were the acting “parents” of the girls.  The youthful “housemother” (dean of girls) was kept very busy with such a large family of girls while her husband taught school with music as major.

In the boys’ dormitory Mr. P. Bonnet was just as busy with his young son Pierre and some fifty additional boys.  His trusty cane was a ready help in maintaining order and discipline!

“Did you say, ‘boys’ dormitory’?  This room does not seem to be occupied by boys!”

“Indeed, no!  This is the principal’s office, complete with telephone and number befitting a new school – 321”

It was in this room that Mrs. Marais – wife of the principal, “oom” C.C.- served as school secretary.  Originally this space was supposed to have been the living-room of the preceptor’s apartment.

The boys’ reception room [years later the worship and study hall] had to double up as class room for the Std. 4, 5 and 6 pupils.  The corner room served as class room for Std. 7. 

And the little nook between the two – actually a part of the reception room, partitioned off for temporary use – was very important.  It served as library, science room and store. 

Three long shelves were installed along one wall. The top shelf held the laboratory equipment.  In this very same room the Std. 8 class startled their young teacher, Miss. J. van Wyk, badly by causing an explosion during a science experiment!

A small one room building behind the boys’ dormitory – where the tennis courts would be built years later by Pr. A. Bambury and his helpers – was home to Mr. Bonnet’s “baby” – the engine that provided electricity for all of Sedaven every evening. 

There was no power during daylight hours.  And great the rejoicing when that motor quit during study hour!  After all, it was impractical for one hundred students to study by candle light!

Woe to those who dared to raid the peach orchard!  For the morning after, “oom” C.C. would stand at the window and stare at the hills, rubbing his cheek and muttering about “too much water”, and every student would know that he wasn’t speaking about rain! 

All would listen intently to find out how this master detective had gone about his work, and pretty soon the culprits would shift around guiltily in their seats.

Those sharp eyes of “oom” C.C. would often notice some praise-worthy deed, and then there would be a medal parade.  Some lucky student would receive a silver medal, a “ticky” – a small silver coin worth 3 pennies as reward.

Or else, for an unworthy deed such as littering with orange peels, a copper medal would be awarded – a big old penny, about the size of an American quarter.

The manual labour program at Sedaven 1951

It was required of every pupil to take part in the “work program”  on an unpaid basis.  In this way young hands were kept busy sweeping, dusting and cleaning.  The older boys helped on the farm and at the dairy.  The older girls helped in the kitchen/dining room or helped teachers with various duties.  

Sedaven 1951 - Farm buildings
Sedaven farm (dairy and silo)

How well I remember marking books for Miss. Martha Coetzee – later Mrs. Jacobs, and still later Mrs. Combrinck, second wife of Pr. Combrinck –  teacher of the primary classes.  The hours spent then in deciphering hieroglyphics still stand me in good stead!  

There was also the important work of sorting laundry in the tem­porary shack behind the girl’s dormitory.  Laundry lists to be checked on Sundays against the contents of each bag – need we say this was not the most popular work?  With no washing machines available, laundry maids came in on Mondays and did the washing by hand on the hillside below the filter-reservoir.  The ironing was done by using sad-irons heated on a small coal-stove in the laundry. Those forgotten heroines should have a plaque of honor hanging in Sedaven’s library!

Week-ends: Sedaven 1951

Week-ends were special times at Sedaven.  On Friday evening the dining room tables were stacked at the rear of the room, chairs were set out in rows, and all was in readiness for the Sabbath vespers meeting. That over, down came the tables to be set for breakfast the next morning.  Following the meal, the procedure started all over again – tables were stacked, chairs set in rows.  After the Sabbath morning service, down came the tables again, to be set for lunch. Now they stayed down until – you’ve guessed it – sunset, when they were stacked again to make space for games or whatever had been planned for the evening.  Films were few – the school had no projector, so films could be shown only when the Conference projector was sent from Johannesburg.

On those glorious Sabbath afternoons nature walks were quite naturally part of the program.  1Then the girls would go with their preceptress in one direction, and the boys with their preceptor in another, to roam the hills or walk up the valley to the Big Dam.

There was the luxury of hot water for baths and showers, on condition that someone stoked the boilers.  This was no popular task, but a very necessary one.  The work was assigned to the boys, but the girls could perform quite well as stokers when the boys were kept busy elsewhere.

Dining room protocols

The dining-room was a very important place for the young people.  Tables were set, and dishes were served at the table, with a boy at each table being assigned as “waiter” for the week, to be sure that the “second helping” was duly conveyed from the serving deck to the hungry diners at the table.  And how those boys could eat!  (We wonder, do the boys at Sedaven still have such healthy appetites?)  Well do we remember a rather young waiter coming to the serving deck, brown eyes a-twinkle with mischief and friendliness.  Soon another young waiter would come in, this time a very courteous, smiling, blue-eyed boy.  So young then – where are they today?  Doing Sedaven proud, for the brown eyes have not lost their sparkle as Michael Stevenson goes about his work in the U.S.A, and courteous, friendly Neville Willcox-Tosen was serving as a missionary teacher in New Guinea when last we heard of him.

These are but two of the many names that are recorded on Sedaven’s roll of honor of those in the Master’s service, or in service for their fellow-men.  A few had this privilege but for a short time, and in memory of them we would be quiet for a few moments to whisper: “We are happy that you shared 1951 with us”.


Summer brought changes in more ways than one.  Mrs T. Uys came as preceptress and Sedaven became “home” to yet another family.  Two months later joy rippled through the school as the news spread: “The Sparrows have a baby boy! They’re calling him Michael.”  This was a very special first in a very special year.

Sedaven 1951 - Michale Sparrow
        Michael Sparrow born at Sedaven 1951
Thanks very much, Paul, for your reminiscences of Sedaven. As you know, I was born there in November 1951, when it was barely a year old, and my parents were part of the first members of staff there when it started in 1951. Then, we left again as my father was both a qualified music teacher as well as a theologian, so he constantly was “used” in organising the music at evangelistic efforts on the East and West Rand as well as in Pretoria in those days. When they needed a music teacher back at Sedaven, we used to go back there, so I spent 51, 53, 56, 59 and 66/7 at Sedaven. It looks like we missed you as you were not there during those years? Anyway, the place has some very special memories for me, and getting baptised in the big dam at the end of 66 was one of the memories I will never forget, and will cherish for the rest of my life. I almost drowned also in 1959, having fallen into the round swimming pool next to the church, but fortunately I had a bright yellow shirt on, and I was fished out of the pool, spluttering and gasping for air!! I was but seven years old, and would still like to know who saved my life then?…  Michael (This post was submitted in a private letter to the editor. January 2017)

Summer also brought another climax of this unique year.  One Sabbath early in December the sound of young voices reverently singing a hymn of consecration was heard across the waters of the dam as Pastor Marais baptised the first of nine young people.  The joy of that sacred moment and the sound of those voices will surely remain as my most hallowed and treasured memory.

Sedaven 1951, we, the pioneers of ’51, salute you!

Have you been one of the Sedaven 1951 pioneers? Do you still have contact with one or more of the pioneers? Please write a comment below or on our Facebook Page sharing some snippet of information that may add to better understanding life at Sedaven 1951.



Windows No.10: The missing bread knife

Dr. Paul reminisces about life at Sedaven High School in the early 1970's

Sedaven high school teacher and principal
Dr Paul Coetser B.A, M.A, M.Ed., D.Ed.

A new student

I am still dormitory dean and Bible teacher at Sedaven high school in 1975 when a new student arrives. James (not the real name). He is in standard 9 and joins my Bible class. He is very intelligent and and has a wide Bible knowledge and achieves top scores in his tests. He is a protege of pastor J.B. Combrink who had played a significant role in his conversion. His parents play no part in his life.

One night the boys report to me that he is not in the dormitory. Apparently he has was upset for some reason and went for a walk in the ‘koppies’. I send some boys to look for him. When they find him his arms and body is covered with blood. He had cut his wrists! Whether it was self harm in an attempt to end his life, or just to evoke our sympathy, is anyone’s guess.”

We take him to Mr. Campbell who is the first aid expert. The cuts are just superficial. I sit next to his bed that night and try to keep him calm. All the while he quotes Bible verses, much more accurately than I can. The next day he is normal again.

The missing bread knife

A few weeks later, one morning when I wake up and go to the kitchen I discover that the kitchen cupboard drawers are all open. On further investigation, we discover that our  bread knife has disappeared. It is nowhere to be found and nobody can tell us who entered our flat during the night. 

Caring staff

Whoever is sponsoring “James” finds it difficult to pay his school fees. Jantjie and Lettie Faul, two caring staff members at Sedaven high school, decide to help and offer to let him stay with them in their house – thus reducing his total school fees.

The Fauls have two little children and James is very good with them. He plays with them every afternoon after school and they love him.

Comes the December school holidays. All the students are gone and even James went to Brakpan, or somewhere, where he lives with pastor Combrink. My family and I prepare to go to Andrews University in the USA for further studies.

Shortly after our arrival at Andrews University in Michigan, we get the news that James had killed a four-year old child with a bread knife and is in jail. Apparently he was babysitting for some family while they were out. The previous day or so he had seen the film: “The Assassins” which was on the cinema circuit in South Africa at that time.

1We never did get the full story. But we shudder when we remember our bread knife that disappeared and how “James” used to play with the Faul’s little children.

I have lost complete touch with him but did hear that he was given a sentence of 25 years imprisonment in Zonderwater prison as a state president’s patient, having been diagnosed as a dangerous psychopath

I do know that Mrs. Molly Churms who is mentioned elsewhere in this series of blogs, had tried to stay in contact with him during his imprisonment.

Evert Potgieter and Ben Martin

Evert Potgieter and Ben Martin were teachers at Sedaven high school in the early 1970’s. The following is a letter written to Ester Martin, daughter of Ben Martin, after her father’s untimely death in 2008.

Hello Esther!

Thanks for your message. My wife and I are still heartbroken about your dad’s tragic death. We knew him as a deeply spiritual man who loved his Lord with all his heart.

The first day I met Ben, he invited me to go for a run with him. I was secretly saying to myself, “I am going to teach this Englishman something about running today!” After all, I had spent years as a student at Sedaven, and used to run all over those koppies.

Well, I accompanied him along the route he took every day: up towards the Big Dam, and then veering to the right up a steep hill. To my irritation he kept up a conversation all the way; I on the other hand did not have enough breath to talk and run at the same time! And when we came to that steep hill, he stopped, and picked up two enormous rocks. With an apologetic smile he explained that he had a strange custom. He would carry those rocks (running) up the hill where, at the summit, he was building an altar. Then he would sit there and pray before he started the run back home. And then he ran ahead of me with his rocks.

When I eventually crawled up the last section of the footpath to where his altar was, he had just finished his prayer, and I had to stagger down the hill again after him. Never again would I underestimate him in running or anything else!

University of South Africa

At school I was always a very average kind of student and academic achievement was very low on my list of priorities. Now I am a teacher at the very school where schoolwork played second fiddle in my life, but my motivation to study has changed.

One consequence of my disinterest in school work was that I did not get a university entrance matriculation certificate and I now don’t have a degree – only a Teacher’s Diploma. I decide to study for a B.A. degree by correspondence through the University of South Africa.

University assignment deadlines now become part of my everyday life. Fortunately there is still not a child in our family. Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons are mostly dedicated to studies.

The Sedaven high school has a policy whereby they repay teachers 50% of tuition fees once a subject has been successfully passed.This is a great motivation for me to continue studying. I manage to complete my BA in this way between 1971 and 1975.

Now I start thinking of post graduate work.

The Adventist Bible Curriculum at Sedaven high school

I am Bible teacher during these years and develop an interest in the Bible Curriculum that is used in Adventist schools. But I don’t like what I find. The same American textbooks that I studied from at school are still in circulation. They were prepared by the Education Department of the Church in the early 1950’s or thereabouts.

The books were good for their time but it is now in the 1970’s. Students in South Africa and elsewhere don’t relate to the content any more and most Bible teachers in Adventist schools around the world start using materials of their own choice. Like the kings in the Old Testament “everybody does what is right in his own eyes”.

There is still no internet or email, but I start agitating in education circles. I give a talk to the Education Board in Bloemfontein. I discover that a new set of Bible textbooks are being prepared in the USA and I take a great interest in these books.

Then one day, somewhere around the middle of the year (1975) the school principal, pastor Hendrik Steenberg, calls me in and informs me that the South African Union Conference has voted me a one year bursary to pursue an M.A. in Religious Education at Andrews University in 1976.

This would herald a new phase in my life and ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist school system.

Marlene remembers life at Sedaven high school in the early 1970’s

(Posted in “Sedaven Memories” Facebook group: January, 2017)

Marlene Riette : Dr. Coetser, I am delighted about this blog for more reasons than one. It occurred to me whilst reading the deconversion posts just what an intense impact having attended Sedaven high school had on the future of every person who ever walked those hallowed halls. 

Since birth Sedaven was part of my memory in one way or the other. My father’s eldest brother, Dr. J.J.B. Combrinck had insisted that my brother, Johan (Matric, 1973), and I, from Std. 8 in 1974 till 1976, attend Sedaven and my parents agreed wholeheartedly. I was not very happy with this decision and did my level best to show my dislike of the school

The first rule I rebelled against was having to wear a white dress to Church – with a blue bus-conductor’s hat which I felt did nothing for anyone’s dress sense. Very few people can carry off looking good in white, especially if they are not allowed to wear heels higher than an inch and the dress being measured at no shorter than 4 inches from the floor when kneeling. It just doesn’t work!

Sabbath mornings, instead of being a celebration of creation, became the bane of my life and a time of creative lying (feigning illness, bunking church, etc.). From my 14th year until this day, I do not do white. In fact, for many years I had to have good light in my wardrobe as most of my clothes were black – the other extreme.

Being a Combrinck, I was blessed with an inherent love of music. It was the time of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, The Doors, etc. – most of my fellow students had not even heard these names. I threw myself into any activity involving good music.

I admired and am sincerely grateful for the balance people like Erna von Zweel, Martie Evert, Percy Mew, Mr. Teixeira, Barry Short, Pierre van der Westhuizen and members of my own family provided in this department. I learned to love all music which has artistic and inspirational merit.

I still cannot get over the fact that I once had to do “hardepad” (hard labor), under the strict, argus eyes of Mr. Van der Walt (I can never think of this brilliant man without the image of a torch in his hand coming to mind simultaneously), just because I had posted a poster of Cat Stevens above my bunk bed which had resulted in Ps. Steenberg and Mrs. Carstens (preceptress) having simultaneous apoplexy during inspection time one morning.

There were many rules at Sedaven high school, which probably originated in the 1800s, which showed no consideration for style, self-image, a competitive spirit, etc. Great was my joy, when in 1975 the dress rule was bent ever so slightly and the girls were allowed to wear trousers. However, it still had to be worn with a top no shorter than 4″ from the ground, which resulted in us just being hotter in summer and still looking like hillbillies. – no good for building self esteem and the necessary confidence we needed for taking on life after Sedaven.

Having said the above, Sedaven high school is inextricably linked with my life and when I visit my parents’ gravesite above Jan Prinsloo’s house, sitting there, looking to the east through the Mispel trees, I am greatful for the founding I had at my Alma Mater. Without the special brand of education I had there, I truly would not have survived some events in my ironically colorful life after Sedaven.


Thank you for this platform and for your ongoing interest in the lives and education of precious young people. What an enormous responsibility!

Are there any “life lessons” or “educational insights” to be learned from the stories in this blog? Please share your views in the comments section below or on the “Adventist Soapbox” Facebook page.

Other articles in the “Windows on the past”- series can be accessed through the “Start Here” button on the top menubar.


Windows No.9: Sedaven Lofsang

Ode to Sedaven high school

Sedaven lover, Evert and new wife
Ps. Evert Potgieter and wife Linda


Sedaven matric banquet 1972
Matric Banquet 1972

Pastor Evert Potgieter is a retired pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist church. He attended Sedaven High School, a denominational boarding school in Gauteng, South Africa. After completing his matriculation exams at Sedaven in 1965 he married one the teachers of the school. The couple was heavily criticized for this step, but this marriage was “made in heaven” and Evert and his wive stayed happily wed until 2010 when Lorette died of an aneurism of the brain.

Pastor Evert completed his ministerial training at Helderberg College (1967-1969) and did advanced studies at both Avondale College in Australia and at Andrews university in Michigan, USA.

During the latter part of the 1970’s and early 1980’s pastor Evert was strongly influenced by the teachings of Dr. Desmond Ford one of his university teachers. This led him into a period of religious doubt. But after some serious introspection and personal Bible study he rejected the teachings of Desmond Ford in favor of the traditional teaching of the Adventist Church.

Pastor Evert remarried after the death of Lorette, and is now retired from Church work and lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina, USA. Pastor Evert loves all kinds of practical work with his hands. These skills, he believes, were learnt as part of the ‘manual labor‘ program at Sedaven High School.

Pastor Evert loves his high school Alma Mater and in response to an article about life at Sedaven wrote the following “Ode to Sedaven” which is a combination of prose and poetry. The “Ode” is written in poetic Afrikaans that will lose its impact if an attempt is made to translate it into another language.

We have therefore decided to publish it in its original language and trust that our readers will understand the reason for doing this.

The sentiment of the piece is to extoll the influence that his Alma Mater, and also his beloved wife had on the life of the author.

Sedaven, Sedaven, Sedaven

“Sedaven”.  ‘n Naam. ‘n Konsep. ‘n Simbool wat my hart laat kramp en my oë laat brand.

Andere kan maar praat en skryf van die tekortkominge van ons ou Alma Mater, maar ek word nie verblind deur die vlieëspikkels op die grootse muurskildery van my geheue nie.

Hoe kán ek, as ek onthou hoe ‘n reus in die onderwys (Tom Smailes) liefde in my wakker gemaak het vir die Rooitaal! 

En ‘n ander reus wat my trots laat voel het oor die Boeretaal wat so mooi gevloei het terwyl hy “Los Donkies” vir ons laat leef het daar in die klaskamer!  (Oom Fritz van Horsten) 

En dan was daar Edwin de Kock by wie ek geleer het om te dink en te redeneer, en Lenie van Wyk (Joubert) wat die waarde van syfers en akuraatheid as erfporsie gebring het.  En Johan Joubert met sy aansteeklike voorbeeld van menseliefde en sin van humor wat my nog steeds beïnvloed en bekoor. 

Soveel reuse!

Hoe kan ek hulde bring aan hulle almal?

Nooit sal ek my held (tenspyte van swakhede  ̶  wat ons almal maar het!) kan vergeet nie.  Arthur Coetzee, koshuisvader en meester met ‘n lat, wat die volgende liedjie geskryf het, en wat ons in die 1958 jaareind-konsert gesing het:

Sedaven is ‘n mooie plek, dit kan geen mens bestry;

En almal wat ooit hierheen kom, maak plan om ook te bly.

Hul kom van Oos, hul kom van Wes, van ver en van naby  ̶

Ou Sedaven is die beste!

Sedaven, Sedaven, jou dierbare land.

Sedaven, Sedaven, vir jou my hart en hand!

Ons ouers het jou duur gekoop,

Hul vrye hulp geskenk  ̶

Ou Sedaven is die beste!


En dan was daar Lorette van Rensburg met haar musiek en liefdevolle persoonlikheid wat diep spore getrap het op die harte van almal wat met haar in aanraking gekom het.

Vir my was dit egter nie net spore nie.  Sy het my hart oorgeneem en my karakter en persoonlikheid hervorm totdat ek uiteindelik amper ‘n mens kon wees. 

Tenspyte van smart en pyn aangebring deur eertydse vriende en geliefdes as gevolg van haar besluit om my haar lewensmaat te maak, het sy nooit haar vriendelikheid en liefdevolle houding verloor nie. 

Aan haar was die volgende gediggies gewy:


(Andrews Universiteit, 1977)

As seun het heel my hart en siel gesmag

´n vriend te hê, ´n kameraad wat saam

sou huil, sou lag, sou deel hê aan

die hunkering na verre lande.

Vergeefs het ek  gewag!

En toe, as tiener, weer die hoop –

die radeloos verlange na

´n metgesel wat beide man

en seun in my sou kon verdra.

God sy die eer wat lewensloop

en hart en siel van mens beheer!

Want waarlik, antwoord op gebed

was jy, my vrou, liefling Lorette!


(Beethoven se “Appassionata”)

Avondale College, 1973)

Swaar akoorde vorm sterk die stewig raam

wat statig rys om dan finaal te troon

bo mens en instrument.  Stil wiegend saam

die mond, die hoof, die donker harekroon.

Bysterend sekuur gly soepel vingers sag

oor toetse heen om tone fyn en kunstig

saam te weef tot éen geheel van prag.

Kontrapuntale melodië uitgelig

teen agtergrond van donker bas

en saamgevleg – gekleurde klank – om so

die grootse tapisserié behendig vas

te lê in my verstand, en ek moet glo

dat eens die meester hierdie werk verál moes skep

vir joú om dit volmaak te speel, Lorette!


Sedaven, Sedaven, Sedaven!

Dit, en soveel meer, het jy vir my beteken!

Please respond to the above post in the [comment] block below.

Windows No 8: The Teaching Ministry

Sedaven High School 1971 - 1975

Dr Paul Coetser B.A., M.A,, M.Ed., D.Ed.

The fishpond

During their teaching ministry at Sedaven a child nearly drowned in this fishpond
Fishpond with palm tree

The teaching ministry at Sedaven High school is full of surprises: It is Sabbath afternoon and Henning Botha, Woodwork teacher, and his family are visiting with Irma and I in our small lounge in the Boys’ Dormitory. We have enjoyed spiritual food at church and a well lovely lunch prepared by the ladies. We are just sitting and chatting about all and sundry. Suddenly Keith, Henning’s youngest son, about three years old, comes running into the lounge: “Kevin in water, Kevin in water!” At first we don’t understand and thinks that he is telling us that his brother is playing with the tap outside. Something makes me look out of the lounge window towards the fishpond. I see something white in the water and suddenly I understand! “Henning, come!” I shout. Together we rush out. I reach the boy first and lift him out of the water. I put him on the terrace and start pumping his chest. His face is blue and lifeless! Then he vomits and starts to breathe! Henning rushes him to the hospital and the next day I commandeer the dormitory boys and we fill the fishpond with soil. Years later a palm tree is planted in this fishpond.


Mont aux Source
I have always loved the outdoors and my teaching ministry at Sedaven provide many opportunities to introduce students to outdoor adventure. Several times we gather groups of students and teachers and set off to one of our favorite destinations, Mont Aux Sources, one of the highest peaks in the Drakensberg mountain range.

The teaching ministry leads to a variety of experiences
Hiking in the Drakensberg

It is about a 4-5 hour trip by combi (van) from Sedaven. Usually we arrive at our destination by early afternoon and then proceed to hike up the narrow mountain path until it ends at the chain ladder.

This is where the “men” are separated from the “mice”!

Ninety-three rungs up the steep mountain face. Some girls are terrified of the dizzying heights and we have to coax and cajole them upwards – usually we encircle them with our arms and ascend slowly, step by step. “Don’t look down, don’t look up, just focus on the mountain in front of you… no don’t close your eyes. Move one hand and one foot at a time…” We reach the top with a sigh of relief, but then it is down again to fetch the next one. The boys are usually no problem and sail up the ladder as if it is an escalator in a shopping mall!

On top of the “escarpment” it is another kilometer or so before we reach the “hiker’s hut”. Sometimes there are up to three school groups who sleep there at night. Packed in like sardines. The next morning we exit the hut amidst swirling mists that confine our vision to a few meters.

But beware!

One day an accompanying staff member squats some meters away behind a small shrub. He has his overcoat over his head. Suddenly the mists disappear and “all is revealed” to the laughing students who are having their morning coffee outside the hut!

Then it is time to explore. The mountain stream (which eventually become the Tugela river) is iced up for the most part, but still, some of us dare to take a quick dip. One energetic group sets off to climb the highest peak a few kilometers away. Others wander along the edge of the escarpment with its terrifying drops into the depths below. The view of the the Tugela valley and the green hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal is something that no-one will ever, ever erase from our minds.

Nausea on the mountain
One weekend, my wife Irma, goes with us up the mountain. But she does not enjoy it. Most of the time she is nauseous and cannot eat any of our carefully packed meals. Jan Prinsloo, one of the teachers, share with her his Rooibos tea. It is all that she can keep down. Back home, the next week, she goes to the doctor and discovers she is pregnant with our first child, Weiers.

Teaching ministry: Building toilet on mountain
Going up the gully. Irma does not know she is pregnant

Ablution on the mountain

 Teaching ministry: building toilet on mountain
Primitive toilet on Mont-Aux-Sources built by Sedaven students

There are no ablution facilities on the mountain. Many groups keep on visiting and the environment deteriorates. We decide to do something about it and arrange a “construction” trip. Each one is to carry 2 kilograms of cement in addition to his normal pack. One or two of us must also take along a shovel and a pick. We spend the Sunday morning collecting rocks and sand and then construct a shelter/toilet. It is hard work, but we accomplish something that will serve visitors for many years!

On these trips, relationships are strengthened and cemented into place for eternity!

Teaching ministry: Colleagues and friends
Most of the Sedaven staff stay in place for a number of years. A few come and go. John van de Vyver who was a teacher some years earlier when I was a student is now a colleague and married to Dawn Schoeman. Johan Joubert has married our bookkeeping teacher and has moved away to study medicine at university. Lorrette van Rensburg, my erstwhile music teacher, has fallen for the charms of Evert Potgieter a contemporary friend of mine. They are happily married for many years into the future.

Dave Allen and his young bride decide to enter the teaching ministry at Sedaven
Dave and Shirley Allen

One day our Conference Sabbath School director challenges some of our teachers to reach out to local churches with training programs. Dave Allen, John van Der Vyver and I rise to the challenge. John focusses on the Sabbath School program training. Dave and I develop a training course for teaching the Sabbath School lesson. We use the “Hook, Book, Look and Took” model that we glean from Lawrence Richard’s book on youth ministry. Many Sabbaths we visit surrounding churches and train our church members to be more effective in their own teaching ministry. Forty years later the so called “Collossian Cycle”: Hook, Book, Look, Took – is still being used and taught in Sabbath School lesson training seminars in various countries around the world!

Teaching ministry: Bible Study Camps

I am dormitory dean and Bible teacher. The idea of “Bible study” camp surfaces and fits in with the concept of teaching ministry. Again I team up with Dave Allen, Maths teacher. The students are enthusiastic and with the support of our school principal, pastor H. Steenberg, we book in at the Rietfontein resort, not too far away from our school. We spend Sabbath and Sunday morning together with the students in small groups reading and studying the Gospel of John.

It is a Spirit-filled weekend. Before we leave we ask the students to commit themselves to the Lord and to His service. We give each student a sheet of paper and ask them to write a letter to God and to keep their letters in a safe place.

The teaching ministry of staff members helped Ps Gertjie to make a decision to become a minister
Ps. Gertjie Allers

Many years later a senior pastor in our Conference – Pastor Gertjie Allers – testifies in a church meeting that he made his commitment to the Lord at that particular Bible Study camp. He still has in his possession the letter that he wrote to God that Sabbath afternoon!

Read all the articles in the Series

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Leave a comment [Comments].

Windows No 7: Freedom from Bondage and Fear

My Journey to Sanctification

Dr P Coetser, editor of
Dr. P.W. Coetser, BA, MA, M.Ed, D.Ed


Dr. Coetser is co-editor of the

Adventist Soapbox website and blog

The end is upon us

In 1964 I was a high school student in one of our Seventh-day Adventist high schools in South Africa. I had been on my journey to sanctification for a number of years already and was baptized just a few months earlier after the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart during one of the annual Weeks of Prayer.

One day, somewhere around June or July, one of the teachers reminded us in Bible class that it was nearly 120 years since the founding of our Church in October 1844. (This incorrect statement was not questioned by anyone). The teacher further explained to us that:
1. Noah was given 120 years to prepare the ark and to warn the world of its imminent destruction; and that
2. Jesus had said that the time of the end would be just like it was in the days of Noah.
3. He explained that the Adventist Church regarded itself as the modern day Noah, whose task it was to warn the world that the time of judgement had come when Jesus had entered the heavenly sanctuary in October 1844 and that he would soon declare his intercession completed. Then the end time would be upon us with all the final events following in quick succession! We could be at the brink of these momentous events in 1964 after 120 years had passed.

This was quite an involved exposition of then current thinking about the end days. Needless to say, it caused a stir among students and some staff members. A few special prayer meetings were held and some Bible study groups were formed where the last chapters of the Adventist classic, The Great Controversy, by Ellen White were scrutinized and discussed. Thinking back about it now, it was a little bit reminiscent of the preparatory activities of the Millerites prior to 1844.

Well, 22 October, 1964 came and went and there was no evidence of any of the climactic end-of-the world happenings that we read about in The Great Controversy and in some interpretations of Daniel and Revelation. Many of the students, including myself, returned to our normal day to day activities. But I wondered.

Growing up in the Church

Here I need to digress a moment to mention that – although I did not know the word – my journey to “sanctification” had started long ago as I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church and attended Adventist elementary and High schools. My family and I went to Sabbath School and church every Sabbath and I also enjoyed most of the annual junior-, teen- and youth camps. This was the system in which I grew up.

I was unaware of it at the time, but my journey to sanctification was significantly influenced by this system that ingrained in my subconscious mind a salvation by works orientation, and a fear and persecution complex that invaded many aspects of my life.

Witnessing for my faith

Shortly after our October “disappointment” my high school days came to an end and I enrolled in a government teacher training college. In college I tried to witness for my faith in various ways. I remember having endless hours of discussion with a Baptist friend about end-of-the-world events. I always said to him, “Just wait and see, the very things that the Bible predicts will soon come to pass and you will know that I was right.”

Pope and Papacy watcher

During my college years I started to make a special habit of focusing on, and noting things of “eschatological” import happening around me. I re-read The Great Controversy and felt immensely blessed thereby. However, I was also scared by the vivid description of persecution and other calamities of the end time that I encountered in that book.

Without realizing it, I and so many of my friends in the Church had gradually succumbed to a paradigm of fear and persecution. I became a Pope, and Catholic Church watcher, taking very specific note of all actions of the papacy that might indicate movement towards the one-religion scenario depicted in The Great Controversy.

My journey to sanctification continues

Some of my other school friends broke with the Church within a year or three of finishing high school. This was never an option in my mind. I loved my Church and also the Lord of my Church. Sabbath keeping and daily devotions remained an integral part of my life.

This was also the time of my life when I studied our church doctrines with renewed enthusiasm. I carried a little pack of cards with memory verses related to these Bible doctrines in my pocket and memorized hundreds of them. These verses would help me witness for my faith when questioned about my beliefs.

I only realized many years later that these “personal” Bible studies were nothing else than ingesting the pre-formulated doctrines of the Church. I never got around to a personal and objective study to discover “Biblical Truth” for myself.

Two miracles

About three years after completing high school, my younger brother and I took a trip to the coast for a short holiday. Two miracles happened on this trip: One night we camped alongside the road in a small tent, sleeping in our sleeping bags. In the morning when I rolled up my sleeping bag an 18-inch puff adder fell out of my bag and slithered off into the grass. I had apparently given it a nice warm shelter for the night! But I had no doubt in my mind that my God had protected me.

A few days later my brother and I were skin diving in the ocean. We were complete ignoramuses and did some very foolish things that I cannot elaborate on now. However, we found ourselves in choppy seas a few hundred meters from the beach. We had an inflated lorry tube to hold on to but one of our spear guns punctured it. Our life support was fast deflating! We were dead tired! We could make no progress back to the beach!

It was then that I called my brother and said: “Let us pray”. I prayed and promised God that I would serve Him for the rest of my days if he saved us. Immediately after that prayer some kind of ocean current took us towards the land and dumped us on the beach where we lay without our diving equipment, but with our lives intact!

Salvation by faith and freedom from fear

Three years later I found myself back at the same school where I was a student. I was now a Bible teacher. Then came Camp Meeting time, and the theme was: “Salvation by Grace”. Dr. La Rondelle – I think he was from Andrews University – was the main speaker. It was during this series of meetings that I experienced freedom from the chains of a works oriented religion. I came to a clear realization that Sabbath keeping and all other good works were purely the outflow and natural consequences of a thankful heart and not a means of earning favor with God. I became thankful for salvation from sin. Jesus was the beginning and end of my salvation.

My response to this religious experience was appreciation for this great gift and commitment to a life of voluntary obedience to His commandments.

With this realization and experience of freedom in Christ, I also lost my compulsive interest in the Pope and world politics. I realized that, what will be will be, and that I had no reason to worry about persecution or whatever. My life was hid in Christ and he would take care of the future. I could relax and enjoy my relationship with Him as I lived a life of service to the young people of the Church.

Each religious experience is unique

All of these events happened more than 40 years ago, and the sanctification process continues every day. I believe fervently that I am saved by grace and grace alone. True, I have often encountered friends, inside and outside the Church, who had not reached this insight nor experienced the release from bondage and fear that I found through the preaching of my Church.

At the end of the day, our journeys to sanctification are all different and one person can never stand in judgement of the religious experience of another.

It has been my great mission as Sabbath school teacher and preacher to proclaim this message of salvation by faith whenever I get the opportunity!

Next article in Series: Windows No 8: The Life of a Teacher

View all the articles in the series.

How do you relate the the testimony of Dr. Paul? Have you personally also experienced freedom from bondage and fear?

School Rules: Bane or Blessing

Rules of the school

The rules of Adventist schools

School rules, or more precisely, the rules of Adventist schools, have always held a certain kind of fascination for me. Somehow, I have often ended up being the teacher or the administrator tasked to re-write, re-organize  or  re-invent rules, guidelines and policies. Sometimes the purpose was to clear up confusion and prevent misunderstanding. At other times, it was to comply with the requirements of accrediting or supervisory bodies.

My own experience with school rules

I first became aware of the impact of rules on my life when in high school my ideas of how I should lead my life conflicted with how the “school rules” visualized my life. Dormitory rules had a multifaceted impact on me. Rising time, bed time, worship time, study time, sleeping time, relaxation time and all kinds of times were imposed on me, who, at that point in time, did not even possess a timepiece.

Harvesting corn cobs

Continue reading School Rules: Bane or Blessing


Pros and cons of one-teacher schools

Which school must I choose for my child?

Recently I blogged about my personal experiences as a student in a single-teacher school. Here I would like to take a more objective stance and zoom in on some of the educational pros and cons  of one-teacher schools. Firstly, however, a short summary of the origins and development of one-teacher schools.

Part of our heritage
one teacher schoolOne-teacher schools are part of the Seventh-day Adventist educational heritage. In fact, they are also part of the American, and even world, educational heritage. Single-teacher schools are as old as Pluto and Socrates who gathered their students (mostly adult disciples) in a public marketplace and taught them what they considered to be relevant and valuable for their time.

A change of mindset
During the middle ages formal education for the masses was an unheard of phenomenon. It was only in monasteries operated by the Roman Church that a certain degree of organized education was evident.
However, by the late 17th and early 18th centuries a mindset change swept through the populations of the Western world. People started demanding some kind of formal education. This mindset accompanied the founding fathers to America and also to countries like South Africa and Australia as they were being entered and colonized. 

Development of the public education system
In these “new” countries – mostly agrarian by nature – small one-teacher schools developed on farms and isolated villages. As the villages grew into bigger towns and bigger towns developed into small cities, etc., schools generally followed the same pattern.

Development of the Adventist school system

The Adventist school system did not quite follow the pattern of the public school system, but for the most part developed from the top down. During the first 4 or 5 decades of the Church’s existence, the majority of the well known church colleges were founded.

It was only in the early 1900’s that a wave of small one teacher schools were established in many towns and cities. In fact the educational vision of the Church in those years  was to have a one-teacher school in every town of America! Church serving as schoolActually it was enivsioned that every church building should have a classroom attached to it that could serve as a one-teacher school. In this way, it was argued, could the close ties between church and school be strengthened!

The end result of this is that there are now more than 800 K1-12 schools in the North American Division of the Adventist church and 350+ of these schools are one- or two-teacher schools. One can conclude that the concept of the single-teacher school is well ingrained in the Seventh-day Adventist educational psyche.

 One-teacher schools:The big debate

Against the backdrop of the Church’s educational history it is no surprise that there is one important question that the the typical Adventist family with elementary age children ask themselves today: 
 The choice between schools
  1. Should I send my child to the one-teacher Adventist school on the other side of town?
  2. Or should I enroll my child at the large public school around the corner?
These questions have been debated in Adventist circles for many decades. The following are the type of arguments that are normally advanced by the proponents of either of the two groups:
Arguments in favor of the small Adventist school Arguments against the small Adventist school
1. You show your loyalty to the Church by supporting it’s institutions 1. A disadvantage of the Adventist school is that you don’t have specialist teachers in all subjects.
2, Your child should go to an Adventist school because Mrs. White tells us that is the right thing to do. She also warns against the evils of public schools. 2. The Adventist school is not good for your child’s socialization because he will not have many friends to choose from.
3. The Adventist school is the best place for your child, because he/she will get a lot of personal attention there which will be lacking in a big school.  3, At the Church school your child will not have access to modern facilities like proper gyms laboratories and sports fields.
4. You should send your child to the Adventist school because Bible teaching is part of the daily curriculum and  public prayer is not frowned upon like in public schools.  4. In the Adventist school your child will never have the thrill to participate in team sports and large scale cultural activities.
5. A further good reason to place your child in an Adventist school is because  the Adventist beliefs and lifestyle are fully  integrated in to the curriculum 5. School fees are much higher in the Adventist church school than in the public school.
6. An Adventist school is the best place for your child because it has been shown that children who attend Adventist schools have a much better chance to remain Adventists in their latter years than those who attend public school. 6. Transport to school is problematic because public transport of a small child is unacceptable and my work situation makes it impossible to personally transport my child.


A characteristic of the pro and con debate is that the advocates for or against Adventist schools normally “shoot straight from the hip”  and their arguments are seldom supported by verifiable facts. The one kind of proof that does frequently find its way into the pro-group’s statements is one or more verbatim, of near-verbatim, quotes from the writings of E.G. White.

I mention this characteristic of the debate, not in criticism thereof,  but purely to illustrate that the issue of choosing between the two options is more a matter of the heart than of the mind. It is ideological rather than rational. And this is how it should be because that is essentially what education is.


From my perspective

I have personally been involved in Adventist education both as a student in elementary and high school. I have also served as teacher, dormitory dean, college lecturer, Conference and Union education director and administrator of various schools. I have a Master’s in Religious education from Andrews University as well as advanced degrees from secular universities.
I mention these things, not to blow my horn, but to give some credibility to my opinion given below.

My opinion

I, myself, have often through the years advanced the arguments in favor of the Adventist school. I did this not only out of loyalty to my employers and my Church, but also because I sincerely believed them to be true.

However, through the years I have also seen just as many exceptions to the arguments (on both sides of the coin) as I have seen confirmations thereof. I have seen students from government schools turn into committed leaders in the Church. I have also seen students who have attended Church schools turn into utterly secular people and even bitter opponents of the Church.

My final conclusion

After having considered this matter from both an academic (theoretical) as well as an experiential perspective I must state categorically that the “die isn’t cast” in my mind. I honestly believe that there is no one correct answer to fit all cases.

My best advice to young parents is to make a prayerful decision following the leading of the Holy Spirit in your heart. But, and this is the final and non negotiable advice: Once you have made your decision:

  1. make it your personal mission to provide a secure and loving home environment for your child;
  2. “Accompany” your child in all the phases and challenges of his school career;
  3. Support the school programs in as much as they coincide with your lifestyle convictions and, in all of this; 
  4. always maintain open channels of communication between yourself and your child.

There is nothing new or revolutionary in these four points. The advice, though, is sound because it is anchored in a firm belief in the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit, and; in a recognition of the essential educative mandate to personally accompany your offspring from childhood to adulthood!


cropped-cropped-logistics.png Please climb onto our soapbox and share your take on the issue of the pros and cons of the small one- man Adventist church school

Windows No 5: Sunbursts

Dr Paul remembers some of the Adventist teachers that impacted on his life.

Editor’s Comment: Editorial context to this Post

“Sweet memories”

I have never before consciously tried to recall the teachers of my school days. This is what I am doing now. Let’s see the sun burst and how the cookie breaks!

Primary school teacher - Lily Hiten
Primary school teacher. Mrs. Lilly Hiten

Lily Hiten: My elementary school teacher whose name was mentioned in a previous blog. Five years in her class and only one exploding burst of memory: Overwhelming kindness. A motherly figure. sympathetic when I’m hurting or sad. She encourages me to read and allows me the freedom of the small library. I am never afraid to go to school! I am not a top achiever, but I never have an urge to play truant!


Pastor Basil Searle (Papa Searle):  Another name that has already figured in a previous blog. Dormitory dean for four years of my life. A kindly, Christian gentleman. Once I saw him pick up some papers lying around the front entrance of the dormitory. I felt ashamed and I started to help him. He thanks me as if I am doing him a favor. However, I learn a lesson that still burns bright in my life today. Sunday mornings. I still smell the freshly baked bread that Mrs. Searle sends to our rooms. How Amazing! Pastor Searle is my history teacher. I love history! He encourages me to read widely outside of the prescribed curriculum. How did he manage to do that? I don’t know, but I still love history!

I have a different and very humorous incident about the ‘fish pond:’ During the time that my Mother, Trudie Vöges was the Girls’ Dean, Pastor Searle was the Boys’ Dean. (this was about 1961-1963) As there weren’t any phones yet in the Boys’ Dormitory, Pastor Searle had to be called over to the Girls’ Dormitory to take his calls. One evening a call came for him, and my mom sent my elder, half-sister – Petro – over to call Pastor Searle. It was already dark, and my mom – being the caring person that she was – admonished Petro to remind Pastor Searle to look out for the fish pond. Well – I don’t know what happened, but Pa Searle (as he was affectionately called) fell right into the fish pond on his way over to the girls ‘ dorm! He arrived dripping wet and took his call while my Mom dashed to get towels and warn Petro not to tell anyone about the unfortunate incident. Well her warning fell on deaf ears – anyway – which teenager could resist sharing such a mirth-provoking incident! My Mom said she could hear the girls roar with laughter – echoing from one room to the next as the story spread like wild fire! I am sure Mom would have given him one of Dad’s coats to put around his shoulders for his ‘journey’ back to the Boys’ dorm. To this day I can hear my Mom telling us the story about ‘Pa Searle’ who fell into the fish pond, and I giggle by myself… It must have been a funny picture! (FB post: Sedaven Memories, by Christel Voges Myburgh. June 2016

Continue reading Windows No 5: Sunbursts


Four Educational Goals

Pierre Steenberg, author of four goals




Pierre F. Steenberg, Ph.D., D.Min., BCCC

 The first goal of education: Knowledge and Skills


The first goal: Knowlege and Skills

When I got home after my first day in elementary school, my parents inquired how the day went. “It was not that great; so-so,” I answered. With compassion my father replied: “Don’t worry, it will go better tomorrow.” I exclaimed, “What? I have to go again?”

In elementary school I had no idea why valuable play time had to be wasted in a classroom. The only possible reason I could think of: It was the law! Why adults would make such nonsensical laws were inexplicable!

By the time I was promoted to high school – the next level of torture – I thought I had it figured out: Education was a necessary evil to equip people with the knowledge and skills to earn a living. 

This mindset continued into my first year of college where I was preparing to be a pastor. If you had asked me back then what the goals of education was I would have answered: “To teach me the knowledge and skills to be a minister.”   Continue reading Four Educational Goals